Having a workbench in the basement or the garage comes with a certain amount of responsibility. After all, no one likes a dirty work bench. Not you, not your wife, not the friends who come over to help you on your DIY projects. We want to make sure all our readers maintain clean workbenches so as to facilitate smoothly running projects from start to finish. To that end, we have come up with a number of tips for keeping your workbench clean. Note that everything begins and ends with your tool storage solutions.

1. Adequate Storage Options

Tool storage is where it all starts. Why? Because without adequate storage, you are likely to just throw your tools on the workbench when you’re done. A couple of projects down the road and you’ll realize you can’t find the tools you need to do even the simplest things. By default, that means the first tip for keeping your workbench clean is to make sure you have adequate storage options in place.

We recommend at least the following:

  • One main tool box where you keep most of your hand tools;
  • Other secondary tool boxes for less used items; and
  • Adequate shelf space for tools so large they will not fit in any of your boxes.

2. The ‘Clean Up After You’re Done’ Rule

If you have kids, have you ever made them clean up the toys they were playing with before getting out something new? This practice works as well for adults as it does for kids. Establish your own rule that says you must put tools from previous projects away before you can start a new project. Better yet, put them away immediately after a project is complete. Don’t wait until the next one comes up.

3. Divide Tools into Groups

Both tool storage and organization are made easier by grouping your tools into certain categories. For example, you may have a core set of hand tools you use frequently. This would include screwdrivers, wrenches, ratchets, and perhaps a hammer. They should all be grouped together and stored in the same location. Your primary toolbox would be an excellent choice.

4. Make Use of Pegboard

There are certain tools you just do not want to store away in a box. Well, they are perfect candidates for a pegboard system. You can buy an inexpensive pegboard at any local DIY or hardware store, then hang your most used tools on pegs right above your workbench. The pegboard system keeps the most used tools readily accessible while maintaining organization and cleanliness.

5. Keep Tool Collections Separate

If you are the kind of person who collects antique tools, you can make tool storage and organization a lot easier by keeping those antiques separate from the tools you actually work with. Perhaps your next DIY project could be building a display case for showing your collectables. You’ll keep them off your workbench and display them for friends and family at the same time.

6. Think Outside the Box for Storage Solutions

You’re obviously going to need a toolbox or two along with the workbench and some cabinets and drawers. But don’t limit yourself to tool storage options you buy at the store. Think outside the box. For example, did you know that supermarkets are now selling meat in large, plastic tubs? Those tubs make great receptacles for nuts and bolts, nails, and other fasteners.

Perhaps your family uses a ton of CDs and DVDs for burning music and movies. It turns out the plastic spools those discs come on are great tool storage solutions. You can hang them on a wall and use them as hooks for your pipe wrenches, hoses, ropes, etc.

Hopefully you got the main point here: keeping your workbench clean is a matter of organizing your tools and storing them in a way that is intuitive and easy. It takes a little discipline, but with the right storage solutions and a commitment to cleanliness, your workbench can stay clean month after month, year after year.

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